Fashion A to Z: 12 Styles of Jeans Defined

Hello and welcome back to another edition of Fashion A to Z. If you are new here, I’ve been discussing fashion topics beginning with A and working my way through the alphabet each Monday. I took a break for the holidays last week, but I’m back on topic for the new year. Today’s topic is J for Jeans.

“You know I like my chicken fried, cold beer on a Friday night, and a pair of jeans that fit just right” – Zac Brown Band. Who doesn’t love a pair of jeans that fit just right? Well, maybe my Daddy. He’s never worn a pair. He’s just fine with a pair of khaki work pants for any and all occasions.

But most of us ladies (and gentlemen) love a pair of jeans for casual wear. Jeans are pants made from denim. Go back to this post for a history on denim and the invention of jeans. They have evolved since the first pair into many cuts and styles. Let’s explore 12 styles of jeans.

1- Black – Technically not a style, but a color, black jeans are worth putting on the list because of their versatility in outfits. Blue is the standard for jeans because of the indigo dye used in the original pair, but they come in a number of colors as well, or lack of color- black. Black jeans can be worn super casual or be used to dress up an outfit. I often opt for black when I want to wear jeans but dress up more than a blue pair allows. You can find most of the styles discussed here in black.

black jeans outfit with leopard booties

Jeans- Nordstrom; sweater- JCPenney; vest- JCPenney; belt- Amazon; scarf- Amazon; leopard boots- Circus by Sam Edelman

2- Bootcut – One of my favorite cuts! I’ve worn boot cut jeans since my teenage years and way before I gave much thought to fashion. Boot cut are cut straight from waist to knee and then cut slightly wider to the ankle so as to allow for the wearing of boots. These are the curvy woman’s best friend, but flatter all body types. Modern boot cuts aren’t as wide at the bottom as the original pairs. They look great with heels as well as boots. I also love wearing them with wedges in the summer.

Boot cut jeans outfit

Boot cuts- Old Navy; top- Old Navy; sweater- old; necklace- Banana Republic; option; boots- Target (old) option; option

3- Boyfriend Loose fitting that look like they were borrowed from your boyfriend. Another good choice for curvy women because the extra room accommodates the extra curves. They come in cropped versions or are usually worn cuffed if not cropped. Boyfriend jeans usually come in low or mid rise.

4 Cigarette – Cigarette jeans are pretty close to skinny jeans, but fall somewhere in between a skinny and straight leg jean. They are cut straight from knee to ankle. The hip area may be more fitted than the straight leg but the ankle isn’t as fitted as skinny jeans. Make sense? They are also usually ankle length. I do not own any cigarette cut jeans but will be exploring them in the future because I love both skinny and straight leg jeans.

AG Prima Raw Hem Ankle Cigarette Jean

5- Color – Jeans dyed to any color other than blue. They are still made of denim. They are yet another way to dress up a casual outfit. Different colors have had different seasons of being on trend- mint, green, red, etc. but my two favorites that have stood the test of time are olive and burgundy.

olive jeans outfit

Denim- Old Navy; option top old- option; option; boots- Vince Camuto

burgundy jeans

Denim- NYDJ; option blouse- Old; necklace- Kendra Scott; jacket JCPenney

Related: How to wear colored denim

6- Flare leg Originally somewhere between a boot cut and a bell bottom, the legs flare wide from below the knee. A more modern version is a cropped leg flare that only flares a little at the bottom, with 17 to 19 inch openings. Full length flares range from 22 to 25 inch leg openings.

crop flare
Crop flare jean

7- GirlfriendA more feminine version of the boyfriend jean. They fit tighter and higher on the hips. They are very close in cut to straight leg jeans; however, I have yet to find a pair to fit my curvy hips. I have success with straight leg jeans but not girlfriend. I’ve tried about four different brands now- Democracy, Chicos, Lee, and Daily Ritual. and I think I’m giving up the search. Many of these come cuffed or made to be cuffed just like a boyfriend jean. This is a very casual style.

Wit and Widsom Girlfriend jean

8- Jeggings– denim leggings. Style these the same as leggings. Some have a button and zipper and some are pull on style just like leggings. I have had a pair of Levis’s jeggings for years and thanks to the stretch, they still fit. Jeggings will have a lot more stretch than your standard jeans.

jeggings outfit

9 Skinny You love them or hate them. I was slow to come around to skinny jeans and now I own several pairs. They are my favorite style for wearing with ankle boots and tall boots. When they first came out, it seems they were only available in low rise and that didn’t fit this full curvy body. Once mid rise skinny jeans came on the scene, I began to experiment with them and once I found ankle length skinny jeans, I was hooked. Skinny jeans hug the legs all the way down. There is usually a good bit of stretch to the denim. I’ve seen advice for pear shapes not to wear them, but I find them more flattering with boots than trying to roll up jeans that just get wider and fuller as you roll, leaving a pear looking wide all the way down. Cropped straight leg jeans would be an alternative for boots, but I say there is a skinny jean for everyone.

skinny jeans

10-Straight leg Before discovering skinny jeans that fit, straight leg jeans were my most worn style. Straight leg jeans are cut straight all the way down and don’t flare or widen below the knee but they don’t hug the legs all the way to the ankle. I prefer to wear this style with flats, pumps or higher shaft boots that can be worn with the jean over the top of the boot. I caution about cuffing or rolling straight leg jeans because it can make the bottom look funny, especially if you have wider calves like I do and your jeans hug your calves no matter the style. Maybe that’s my personal preference, but for what it’s worth, that’s what it is. Straight leg jeans will have a 14- 16 inch leg opening where skinny jeans have a 9-10 inch opening.

straight leg jean with flannel shirt

Shirt- Old Navy; Denim- Old Navy; belt- Amazon; shoes- Lifestride option option

11- Wide leg Wide leg jeans have a hem circumference of 20 or 22 inches or wider and are wider all the way down, vs flare or boot cut that gradually get wider below the knee. This can be a super flattering cut for women with wide hips but a best worn with fitted top and heels. Cropped wide leg pants have become trendy in the past couple of years.

wide leg jeans

12- White – Not necessarily a style, but a color again, and as deserving of the list as black jeans. A great summer staple, yet white jeans can be worn year round.

white jeans outfit with utility jacket

Jeans- Loft; jacket- JCPenney; shoes- Target (old)

A few more things to know:

Rise- jeans come in low, mid and high rise. Low rise sits about two inches below the navel. Mid rise sits just below the navel, while high rise sit at or above the navel. High rise jeans have been trending lately, but most are not for this short-waisted petite. Mid-rise is my best fit and I just won’t be on trend if high rise is all there is. However, it’s hard to not be on trend with denim with all the cuts and styles, unless you are still literally wearing a pair from 40 years ago. The stitching and material has changed a little since then, so consider a new pair. (unless true vintage is your style and then I say rock them!)

Different brands have rises that can vary an inch or so and it really makes a difference in the fit. As a curvy person, I look for a larger back rise so all the junk fits in the trunk! Note there is a front and back rise, so pay attention to both for optimal fit.

Wash– There are several washes or shades of blue denim, but the most popular are dark, medium and light. Dark wash has had the residual dye removed, while medium and light washes have undergone longer washes to remove more dye.

What’s your favorite color or wash and style of jeans?